Leader of the Opposition Andrew Fahie has lamented that the premier has used his mid-term address to boast about the health of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) economy, adding that everyone else in the territory knows the local economy is unwell.
He therefore challenged Premier Dr D Orlando Smith to come clean about his government’s stewardship of the territory over the past six years the National Democratic Party (NDP) has been in office.
According to Fahie, the administration has failed.
“It was quite amazing that the premier would boast on how well financially the territory is performing when everyone in the territory knows otherwise… The premier at some point in his administration must come clean to the people of the Virgin Islands. The days of perception management must end,” Fahie said.
He noted some of the symptoms of the failure.
“Bills incurred by this NDP government are either not being paid or not being paid in a timely manner. Projects cannot be completed. Programmes are being discontinued. Institutions are suffering for the lack of funding. These are not signs of a healthy financial company nor a healthy financial government.”
“Contrary to the report issued by the premier, I can only summarize the accomplishments of this government as failed – failed in terms of transparency; failed in terms of accountability; failed in terms of conflict of interest; failed in terms of good governance,” Fahie said in a statement to the press.
More hardship as a result of taxes
The premier’s mid-term address will be remembered for the things it omitted, Fahie further said, adding that the omissions include the many tax increases that have created undue hardship throughout the territory.
“The speech will best be remembered for the phantom-like report and for what it did not contain… The sudden increase of every tax known to man has created undue hardship to the business community… Seeking to tax your way into prosperity is a failed attempt.”
Fahie also listed several other areas in which he claimed the NDP government blundered. “The UK has now appointed personnel to each of the seven primary posts, and more are pending. Thirty million dollars is still unaccounted for at the pier project. Seven million dollars flew out of our Treasury’s doors without any accountability for an airline, and now we have fights and not flights. The constitutionally required audits of the territory’s finances for the past six consecutive years are still not produced to the House of Assembly,” Fahie lamented.
He further said: “The increase of Government elected officials receiving major government contracts or services without going through any credible and transparent process has allowed conflict of interest to now seem acceptable and within the confides of good governance. Increased advantages through pecuniary interest has also now being accepted as the norm for elected government officials.”
Fahie again warned that the United Kingdom may reduce the power of the local government if it does not act more responsibly. “Violations of any and each of these [standards] can result in valid reasons why the British Government will seek to justify further management of our territory. Our forefathers have fought hard and fought long to bring us thus far. We cannot idly sit by and allow fancy speeches and perception management to take us to a point where we all will regret,” Fahie further argued.
VIP will correct the problems
Fahie, in the meantime, claimed that the government has achieved some positives over the past six years, but those are being overshadowed by the bad.
“Have there been positive decisions made by this government? Yes, of course there have been positive decisions made, but these positives will always and forever be overshadowed by the very subjects [earlier] outlined,” he said, adding that the NDP government cannot be expected to properly address the problems it has refused to acknowledge.
According to Fahie, the VIP is getting ready to remove the shadow that has been cast over the territory.
“The Virgin Islands Party is in its advance stages of rebuilding… Credible cost saving operational measures must be a subject of debate. Everyone is aware that our financial services is under global attack. We must stabilize both our financial services and tourism product. But most important, we must diversify our economy,” Fahie further reasoned.
“Our new Virgin Islands Party team is emerging. Together with the residents and voters of the Virgin Islands this shadow that has been cast on the Virgin Islands will be removed and indeed we can look forward to a brighter day.”
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